September 25, 2023

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Stop dumping your cast-offs on us, Ghanaian clothes traders tell EU | Global development

A team of secondhand clothes sellers from Ghana have visited Brussels to lobby for Europe-huge laws to compel the fashion industry to assistance deal with the “environmental catastrophe” of dumping large amounts of textiles in the west African place.

The traders from Kantamanto in Accra, a single of the world’s most significant secondhand outfits markets, met Alice Bah Kuhnke, an MEP with Sweden’s Environmentally friendly celebration, environmental organisations and associates from the European Commission and the European Natural environment Bureau to argue that proposed prolonged producer responsibility (EPR) regulation should make sure Ghana receives resources to controlling the 100 tonnes of outfits discarded at the sector each individual working day.

Producers are obliged by EPR insurance policies to add to the disposal of squander generated by their goods. France is now the only place in Europe with an EPR that addresses the textile field.

Critics say the policy does tiny for “end-of-line” nations around the world this sort of as Ghana – since the fee compensated by clothes producers is very low at just €0.06 (5p) for every item, and the resources raised do not “follow exports” to nations this kind of as Ghana, which are struggling the outcomes of in excess of-generation and use in rich nations.

The Kantamanto traders want the draft EPR policy – due to be submitted in June – to increase the price to a least of €0.50 cents for every product, and to warranty a honest portion of the dollars goes to the international locations the place the secondhand clothing close up, such as at least 10% in the direction of an environmental fund to clean up previous damage.

An aerial watch of Kantamanto sector in Accra, exactly where 100 tonnes of secondhand outfits a day are discarded. Photograph: Misper Apawu/The Guardian

Kantamanto, which emerged in the 1960s out of a colonial-period mentality that pushed Ghanaians to undertake western outfits, now covers about 7 hectares (18 acres) of land, dealing with about 15m clothes a week and supplying get the job done for about 30,000 men and women.

Stores get and form by 55kg (121lb) bales of clothing – most of it is both “deadstock” (outfits held in warehouses and storerooms for several years but never worn) or objects donated to charities or still left in recycling bins. About 6m of the superior-excellent things are marketed or upcycled in the market place every 7 days.

But about 40% of the textiles that arrive in Kantamanto are discarded as waste. The advancement in “fast fashion” is pushing that figure up, and bringing a increased quantity of decreased-good quality secondhand apparel. The fall in high quality potential customers to extra waste and erodes the traders’ earnings, sending lots of into debt.

“Kantamanto makes seen the dilemma that exists in Europe,” mentioned Samuel Oteng, a designer and group engagement supervisor with the Or Basis, a US environmental organisation centered in Accra that operates with Kantamanto and funded the delegation’s visit to Europe.

“But Kantamanto also has the solutions,” he reported. “I’ve found the resilience of Kantamanto, but the assist and recognition is not there.”

The traders want new legislation to admit the function of Kantamanto’s employees in recycling the international north’s forged-offs.

“By just about any other evaluate, recirculating 6m things of clothes weekly is an astonishing feat. What leaves Kantamanto Market as waste does so largely since there is basically much too much outfits, not mainly because people today are not doing work difficult to deal with it,” according to the Squander Landscape report, published by the Or Foundation in 2022.

A man by the sea walks through mounds of clothing looking like multicoloured rocks
A person in Accra picks his way by mounds of discarded clothes to fetch a bucket of seawater. Ten dumps in close proximity to Ghana’s money have closed in the previous 10 years because they were too total. Photograph: Muntaka Chasant/Rex/Shutterstock

Solomon Noi, element of the delegation and director of waste administration for Accra metropolitan assembly, reported it was unattainable for the metropolis to cope with the quantity of marketplace squander. In between 2010 and 2020, 10 authorized garbage dumps in the metropolis had been shut right after achieving capacity.

Currently authorities transportation squander from the current market to Adepa dump, 30 miles (50km) north of Kantamanto, but they can only handle about 30% of the full apparel squander and the remaining 70% finishes up in ditches and drains, leaching dyes into the sea and rivers, and masking seashores with large tangles of clothing.

“It is rising in the sea – turtles can not come to the seaside, the coral is dying, the fishers simply cannot fish. It is an environmental catastrophe,” claimed Noi, talking at the ChangeNOW convention in Paris, which the delegation frequented immediately after lobbying in Brussels.

He claimed the global north had a responsibility to support with squander management infrastructure and logistics.

“We depend on our taxes [to raise money] to manage the waste, but taxes go to instruction, wellbeing,” Noi stated. “Little is still left to manage textile squander. And why really should I operate really hard to get my taxes to get rid of your [the global north’s] squander? We have experienced more than enough.”

The Or Foundation is also contacting on outfits providers to disclose the quantity of garments they make every single yr and to dedicate to lessening that by 40%.

“None of this matters if we really do not sluggish down creation,” reported Liz Ricketts, a co-founder of the organisation. “The issue isn’t natural as opposed to non-organic there is simply just far too a lot garments.”